The unspoken question is whether lockdown has dumbed many down?

Many are noting that their people are way off the pace. What is to be done?

There have been so many articles on the anxiety that many feel post lockdown, on the mental health impact and the struggles that many face socialising with ease again; but strangely one of the biggest impacts being quietly noted is just how many are off the pace in their work, and that the normal levels of knowledge has declined.

It has led to questions as to whether lockdown has dumbed many down?

There are a number of reports that many are struggling to return to the pace of work, that many feel lethargic, and that many do realise that they are mentally slower than they were.

At the same time, there are many who simply neither want to nor expect to return to the office. A number of employers, both in the US and in the UK, are privately noting exasperation as a number have found a new lifestyle and do not expect that to change. Companies are also noting that productivity and service levels have declined, that everything is slower and that this is deemed acceptable. In the eyes of employers, it is anything but acceptable and inevitable conflict is waiting further down the road.

Some are privately asking why, given that everyone has had so much time, are people simply not ready for the return to work or facing the challenges ahead? Some employers are noting a real concern of clear double standards where there are those who have struggled whilst being on furlough and then others who have been full pay, who have enjoyed extra savings but also found “places” to be able to hide from accountability. It is naturally asked why those who have struggled should respect those who have not and who could have “fought” harder and may appear arrogant in their ways?

It is going to take time for the new norm to find its feet. There are going to be inevitable tensions, changes in senior personnel who are deemed not to have delivered and no few law cases to emerge as a result. The overview is that the return to work is going to see a very difficult July to December as companies find their balance.

The good news is that longer-term, it should lead to:

· Far stronger employee experiences and services in the workplace as companies understand that employees need to see the real value for returning to work and this will mean greater investment in soft services which make employees feel valued

· Greater opportunity for hungry young talent who will be given the opportunity to show what their talents have to offer over those who maybe have lost their way

· Greater investment back into training and retention. A doubling in L&D budgets is being forecast which will please many but employers are also noting that L&D needs to now deliver far better than what was delivered pre-pandemic.

· Expectations will rise on what is expected from leaders at all levels which will, over time, see real changes take place.

The pandemic may have dumb downed people but there will be a natural correction. The odds are that it will be a very difficult second half of the year for many but 2022 may see a stronger landscape emerge.